Ginger and honey cake (15 mins prep/80 mins cooking)

ginger honey cake

This yummy cake is sticky, light and has just enough kick of ginger without it being overwhelming (the original recipe by Dan Lepard had an outrageous amount in it so I changed the quantity). It is best at least one day after it is baked and lasts for a few days. You can enjoy it on it’s own or with some creme fraiche as a dessert.

As someone who is fairly new to baking I would say this cake is straightforward to make, plus it got some compliments from the parents when I made it for a recent birthday party. The kids, on the other hand, only had eyes for my friend’s dinosaur cake. Anyway, I’m rambling. Here is the recipe!

Ingredients

300g honey
75g unsalted butter, melted
50ml sunflower oil
3 medium eggs
150g stem ginger, chopped
3 tsp ground ginger (or 4 tsp if you want a stronger flavour)
1 tsp ground cinnamon or coriander
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Extra butter and honey, for finishing

Line the base and sides of a small loaf tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/335F/gas mark 3. Put the honey in a bowl, add melted butter, oil and eggs, then beat until smooth. Stir in the chopped ginger and spices, add the flour and baking powder, stir well until everything is evenly mixed, then spoon into the tin. Take small slivers of butter and lay them centrally along the length of the mixture. This will force the cake to crack along the butter line.

Bake for about 70-80 minutes and try to avoid checking it more than once or twice in case it collapses. Use a skewer to check that the centre is baked (it should come out without any gloop on it and pretty much clean). It should go dark golden on top. Leave to cool in the tin. While the cake is warm, brush the top with extra honey to soften the crust. Once cold, wrap the cake well and it should keep for several days. It’s great as an afternoon treat, or warmed and served with creme fraiche as a simple dessert.

Provencal tomato soup

tomatosoup

Here is a lovely summery soup full of goodness.  It takes about 5 minutes to chop the veg and then 40 minutes to cook on the hob.  You could eat it with a dollop of creme fraiche for extra Frenchness, and add some basil leaves on top for a sophisticated look.  My kids didn’t scream ‘no I want something else’ when I gave it to them, so that’s good…

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

2 tsp tomato puree

1kg ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 bay leaves

Good pinch of sugar

Veg stock (I used one pint of veg Oxo)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, carrot and celery for 1o minutes until softened.  Stir in the tomato puree.  Tip in the tomatoes and add the bay leaves and sugar.  Stir well and cook gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes reduce down slightly.

Pour in the stock using your judgement as to how much to use.  Be careful not to pour in too much or it will be too watery.  Cook gently for approximately 20 minutes stirring a few times.  Remove the bay leaves then puree the soup.  Continue heating it in the pan and season.  Add more stock if need be or cook for longer to reduce it down if it is too watery.  Serve with creme fraiche and basil leaves!

Recipe from the excellent GoodFood 101 One-pot dishes

Crunchy seeded salmon with sweetcorn salsa

seeded salmon sweetcorn salsa

Here is a lovely, nutritious idea to give salmon some extra flavour and crunch, alongside a gorgeously refreshing sweetcorn salsa.  A perfect dish for when the sun reappears.  You could make little versions of the salmon for kids to nibble on too!  The whole dish takes about 15 minutes to prepare plus approximately 20 minutes for the salmon to bake.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the seeded salmon

4 salmon fillets , skinned

40g plain flour

1 egg

1 tsp soy sauce

150g sesame seeds

50g sunflower seeds , roughly chopped (or put in food processor)

25g fresh brown breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees / gas mark 6.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Beat the egg with the soy sauce. Mix the seeds and breadcrumbs together (or blend together in a food processor to avoid chopping the sunflower seeds).  Dip the salmon pieces in the flour, followed by the egg, then roll in the seeds and crumbs before placing on the baking tray.  Cook the salmon for approximately 20 minutes, until it is light pink and flaky inside and the coating is golden.

(Recipe from www.ocado.com)

For the sweetcorn salsa

2 tins of sweetcorn

1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

A little red onion, finely chopped

1/2 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

Big glug of olive oil

Handful of mint, roughly chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and that’s it!

Spiced apple chutney

easy spiced apple chutney

Here is a straightforward chutney recipe full of lovely gentle spice flavour.  It is my first go at chutney (courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk/food) and is very easy.  I love having it in the fridge to add to cheese (especially cheddar, cheshire or stilton) or anything I decide it will go with e.g. a pasty/quiche/a picnic.  And if I ate meat I would recommend it alongside meat of course!

Allow about 20 mins preparation plus approx 1.5 – 2 hours to occasionally stir it until it is ready.  Don’t be tempted to add extra raisons/sultanas as they plump up when cooking.  This recipe makes 4-6 jars of chutney and you can re-use old olive/jam jars (see below recipe for simple sterilising instructions).  Your friends will love you if you give them a jar!

easy spiced apple chutney

For further preserves recipes that make excellent edible gifts (or just for you) try this sweet chilli jam recipe https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/easy-sweet-chilli-jam-recipe-plus-rocky-roads-good-to-make-with-kids-9/ or this mega quick marmalade recipe https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/easy-quick-delicious-marmalade/.

Ingredients for spiced apple chutney

225g/8oz onions, chopped

900g/2lb apples, cored and chopped

110g/4oz sultanas, raisins or chopped dates

15g/½oz ground coriander

15g/½oz paprika

15g/½oz mixed spice or a good pinch of ground cloves

15g/½oz salt

340g/12oz granulated sugar

425ml/¾ pints malt vinegar

Put all the ingredients into a big saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved.  Gently simmer for 1½-2 hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.  When it is very thick and you can draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, the chutney is ready.

Turn into sterilised jars, seal and cool.

To sterilise jars: ‘Wash them well in hot, soapy water, rinse well with hot, clean water and dry with a clean cloth. Then put the jars in an oven preheated to 140c/Gas Mk 1/275F for 10 minutes. Put the contents into the warm jars’ (from www.nigella.com).

Chocolate chip cookie-dough berry crumble in a rush!

cookie dough berry crumble

I was first introduced to red fruit and chocolate when eating a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and boy do they go together.  This is a cheat’s dessert as it only contains two ingredients and you buy the cookie dough pre-made, so it is great if you only have a few minutes to prepare (plus 25 mins baking time).  And it tastes seriously good!  Eat it with some ice cream, cream or custard.  The recipe is from GoodFood 101 one-pot dishes, which I am using a lot at the moment…

Ingredients (serves 4)

350g bag mixed frozen berries (cheaply available at supermarkets – Sainsbury’s is £1.25)

350g pack fresh chocolate chip cookie dough (usually in the butter/margarine aisle)

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees/gas mark 7.  Tip the frozen fruit in to a shallow baking dish and tear pieces of the cookie dough over the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.  Serve with ice cream, cream or custard.

Quorn and cashew nut stir fry

quorn stir fry

With two demanding little children to look after I am relying more and more on quick, one-pot recipes, so here is one for you!  This satisfying stir-fry took me 25 mins (but would take less time if you chop the veg smaller), is full of healthiness and goes nicely with some noodles or rice.  It reminded me how much I like the texture of quorn and the flavour of toasted cashew nuts.  Use any ready-made stir-fry sauce such as black bean, Thai sweet chilli or hoisin.  Or the always reliable soy sauce.  And feel free to vary the veg – mushrooms, onions, carrots and asparagus (in season!) would be just as delicious.

Now the weather is sunny and warm I am working on some ideas for picnics, so watch this space for future recipes!

Ingredients for quorn and cashew nut stir fry (serves 4)

70g cashew nuts

Vegetable oil

300g quorn pieces

Chopped broccoli florets

Chopped cauliflower florets

1 red pepper, chopped

Ready-made sauce, to taste

First, toast the cashew nuts by dry frying them in a non-stick pan for a few minutes until browned (keep a close eye so they don’t burn and turn bitter).  Tip them out and put them aside.  Put some oil in the pan and fry the quorn for approx 5 mins.  Add the cauliflower, then after a few minutes add the broccoli and pepper.  Finally add the sauce and cashew nuts and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper if you wish.  Serve with noodles or rice.

For another stir-fry idea click here: https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/oriental-stir-fried-veg-with-marinated-halloumi-10-mins-prep15-mins-cooking-plus-1-hour-to-marinate/